Lang named WITN Player of the Week

Published 11:58 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS BROADCAST HONOR: Senior Kelsey Lang pitched seven of the 10 innings during last week’s Round 4 matchup against Whiteville.

BROADCAST HONOR: Senior Kelsey Lang pitched seven of the 10 innings during last week’s Round 4 matchup against Whiteville.

GREENVILLE — Northside pitcher Kelsey Lang was named WITN Player of the Week on Tuesday for her seven-inning, six-strikeout performance against Whiteville in Round 4 of the NCHSAA 1-A state tournament.

The senior held the Wolfpack scoreless through the first three and the final four frames, reentering in relief of her sister Rachel, who pitched innings three through six, in what developed into a 10-inning affair on Friday.

Lang, one of four core seniors, has been the team’s heartbeat throughout the undefeated season and postseason run, coming through in key situations and always remaining positive, no matter the circumstance.

“Kelsey is a great asset to the team,” said head coach Riley Youmans. “She shows character on and off the field, leadership on and off the field. She’s just a great student, a great athlete. She plays three sports and is very successful in all three of them. She shows leadership and the attitude you need to need to be a great pitcher, keeping it calm and having fun doing it. She goes up there with an 0-2 count and relaxes and is able to come through. You can’t replace a Kelsey Lang, that’s for sure.”

Lang has pieced together a productive senior season, tossing a team-high 76 innings, recording a 0.74 ERA and 90 strikeouts. She’s only allowed eight walks and three extra-base hits all year.

It’s a remarkable stat line for a pitcher who faced a great deal of adversity early in the season. Succumbing to what should have been a crippling injury, a chipped bone in her pitching hand, in the season opener, the right-hander was sidelined for two weeks. It’s the kind of pitching injury that can take months, even a full season to recover, but Lang returned on March 24 for a home game against Lejeune, a 27-0 blowout.

“She showed her real mental strength, physical strength, to come back and do as well as she did,” Youmans said. “It was something that was unfortunate and I was very concerned about it. I know she was, but that just shows you how tough of a young lady she is to come back and perform like she has. Not only is she pitching well, but she’s hitting well. It hasn’t affected her one bit.”

On top of her contribution inside the pitcher’s circle, Lang was recently promoted from the middle of the lineup to the No. 3 slot, finishing the last four games of the regular season on an 8-for-11 tear. After hitting .348 her junior year, well below her .478 sophomore year averaging, Lang is one of the more productive hitters this season for the Panthers, boasting a .508 average with 20 RBI and six doubles.

“When you’re hitting like that, you want to put the bat in the player’s hands,” Youmans said. “We want her to get as many at bats as possible when she’s as hot as she is.”

Lang aims to lead her team to the state championship this week with Game 1 of the eastern regional championship tonight in Pinetown at 7 p.m.